PEKIN, Ind. — (WHAS11)-The Fourth of July is full of festivities, but it's hard to top Pekin's party. The tiny town in southern Indiana prides itself on having the oldest consecutive Fourth of July celebration in the entire country.
The tradition is now 189 years old. Organizers said it started in 1830 as family picnics and eventually moved over to what's now Pekin Park.
The Pekin Community Betterment Organization runs the show and spends months planning it. 2013 Fourth of July Queen Taylor Humphrey is the president. Her passion for the parade runs so deep she's only missed one her whole life.
“Ever since I was little, I've been in the parade. I used to ride my four wheelers and do pageants and stuff. My mom took me to Disney World, and I did not want to go. I was seven-years-old, and I was so mad at her. I didn't want to miss the Pekin Fourth,” Humphrey said. "I love the Fourth of July. This is like a second Christmas to me. "We're a small town, so Independence Day is a big deal for us anyway."
Organizers said about 5,000 people live in Pekin, but the population doubles for the holiday. They said the parade and party typically bring in about 10,000 fans from all over the world. The parade always rolls at 10:00 a.m., and it usually takes about two hours to get the hundreds of participants through. It is rain or shine and always happens on the Fourth of July, no matter what day of the week it falls on.
"Rain or shine, we do it. Yep, and we've had some rain,” Humphrey said.
The organizers also give an award to whoever travels the furthest to be there. They said one year somebody actually came all the way from Japan. It was a guy from Pekin who was stationed in the military over there but purposely took his leave so he could make it back for the parade.